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Strong start from Niger gives way to punishing second half as African champions Algeria surge to victory

A driven Nigerien side came out looking to pull off a shock, but failed to obtain a reward for their strong start and fell victim to a refocused Algeria in the second half with the Fennec Foxes rattling off five goals in the second half on their way to a 6-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying victory. Algeria’s unbeaten streak is now at thirty games and they remain the leaders in Group A over Burkina Faso on goal differential with seven points. Niger remain on three points and will have to be content with some of the positive stretches of play they produced instead of a dream result.

Visitors Niger came out with a fiery start and capped off the opening five minutes with a strong shot from a tight angle that forced Algeria keeper Raïs M’Bolhi to beat the ball away. The Ménas continued their fearless approach by refusing to settle into a defensive shell, holding out the Fennecs for over 25 minutes. However, with Riyad Mahrez on the pitch, the potential is always there for a moment of brilliance and the Manchester City playmaker produced one in the 27th minute. A free kick from nearly 30 yards out saw Mahrez unleash a sublime shot that went just beyond a flailing Kassaly Daouda in the Niger goal and into the net.

Despite the inspired performance of their opponents, Algeria had a one-goal lead going into halftime and it was only a matter of time before the hosts started clicking. Before two minutes were up in the second stanza, it was a two-goal lead when a free kick service from out wide by Mahrez found Mohamed Fares for a header on goal. Daouda did well to keep the shot out but a chaotic goal mouth scramble ensued before the ball was put in for an own goal by Youssouf Oumarou. Only a few minutes later, Niger fought back to keep the match close when a horrible giveaway by Algerian defender Abdelkader Bedrane allowed Ali Mohamed to send Daniel Sosah in on goal, who took his time before firing in between M’Bolhi’s legs.

That was as close as Niger got. Mahrez converted a penalty kick for his second goal after a clumsy challenge felled Feghouli at the edge of the Nigerien box. Mahrez then was on the verge of finishing from close range for his hat-trick but Zakaryia Soulemane instead tackled the ball into his own net while trying to save a sure goal. Substitute Islam Slimani then delivered two goals in the final fifteen minutes, both simple finishes created by excellent work from Youcef Atal in the 76th minute and fellow substitute Adem Zorgane in the 89th.

Niger can be proud of their effort but the class of Algeria was simply too much after the halftime break. Video of the highlights are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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